From Minimalist Music to Postopera: repetition, representation and (post) modernity in the operas of Philip Glass and Louis Andriessen

Authored by: Jelena Novak

The Ashgate Research Companion to Minimalist and Postminimalist Music

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409435495
eBook ISBN: 9781315613260
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042556


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If rigorous early repetitive minimalist music was about something at all, it was about music and its own structure. For example, works such as Philip Glass’s Music in Similar Motion and Music in Contrary Motion (both 1969) and Louis Andriessen’s Melodie (1972–74) and Hoketus (1977) are highly self-reflexive and focus primarily on structuring sound in time. Glass, Andriessen – and also Steve Reich – are today, however, among our leading contemporary opera composers. They have moved from the self-reflexive sound structures of early minimalism, exploring the mechanisms of repetition, and ‘applied’ these to opera. These days, they use the techniques elaborated in their early works in order to ‘recycle’ other musical languages through them, and in the process this music becomes engaged with extra-musical phenomena.

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